It’s not always the stories that we tell to prospects and consumers that matter. It’s often the stories we tell ourselves.
In talking with companies that are unhappy with the way they are growing, I find two common themes (and one a little less often):
- A belief that they deserve more attention. That their product or their service is so good and so beneficial and so fairly priced that the story they tell and the way they tell it shouldn’t matter. I don’t think this is arrogance… I think it is a natural byproduct of hard work and high pressure.
- A lack of authenticity. This is almost the flip side of the first, but, surprisingly, it often shows up at the same time. This is the feeling that you don’t have to tell the truth, that it’s "just marketing." Talk to someone at a company on a mission–Southwest or JetBlue or Acumen Fund and you’ll hear the same story, told with desire and belief and honesty. These are people on a mission to really do something. Contrast that with someone who wants to know the ROI on a monthly basis from a blog–they’re busy doing the math, not living the story.
- The third trait, which shows up a bit less often, is the marketer who doesn’t believe that she deserves success. This is the self-critical marketer who is being brutally honest–and is frustrated at the state of her market and of her product. The obvious but often difficult solution is to either change the product, change the story or get a new gig. The wrong but most common response is to just be frustrated.
You’ve certainly met people who have all three things taken care of. They approach a marketplace or a consumer with an appropriate amount of humility. They tell a story that is true, that they believe, that they live. And they do it with confidence, knowing that the story they are telling is bound to benefit most of the people who hear it.
The fascinating thing is that all three of these items happen before the consumer is even involved. They are internal and they’re under your control, direction or influence.